There should be no room for corruption or administrative lapses in the distribution of fuel subsidies to sectors affected by the continued rise in oil prices, Sen. Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson said Wednesday.
Lacson said authorities should learn from the past where aid from the Bayanihan funds failed to reach their intended beneficiaries, especially the public utility drivers.
“Aside from the issue of possible corruption, there is the administrative issue of distributing the funds. We cannot afford a case of the aid coming too late, when the beneficiaries may have already died),” he said.
Lacson recalled that while Congress passed the Bayanihan 2 to help the transport sector cope with the effects of the pandemic, the Commission on Audit later found that only one percent of the fund reached the intended recipients.
“That’s why we see drivers begging in the streets,” he said.
Otherwise, Lacson said doubling fuel subsidies for the transport sector and fuel discount vouchers for the agriculture sector to help them cope with the spiraling prices of oil is the right thing to do.
“Due to the spiraling prices of oil in the world market, doubling the fuel subsidies and vouchers is the right thing to do as allowed under a special provision in the 2022 General Appropriations Act in order to contain inflation which is projected to hit 3.7 percent in 2022,” he said.
Fuel prices have shot up in recent weeks and the situation is expected to worsen due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Cabinet’s economic development cluster is proposing to increase the fuel subsidy for public transport drivers from P2.5 billion to P5 billion; and the budget for fuel discount vouchers for farmers and fisherfolk from P500 million to P1.1 billion.
On the other hand, Lacson reiterated he would attend a special session of Congress if called by President Rodrigo Duterte, to discuss the possible declaration of a state of economic emergency.
“It is okay with me so government will have the needed flexibility to deal with this scourge of fuel price hikes,” he said.
Lacson—who is running for President under Partido Reporma—and his vice-presidential bet Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III are running on a platform of fixing the government’s ills and going after thieves especially those in government.